On Melissa, on Mother’s Day

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Today is Mother’s Day, celebrated in much of the world. Ideally, it is a day based upon love of the type spoken of in today’s Gospel; in reality it is much more firmly-rooted in the confection, floral, and greeting card industries. These substitutions are of the sort that can occur when we are not paying attention, and after awhile we don’t seem to notice that something wonderful has been lost, especially since there are so many dazzling things filling up the space.
Most of us have days throughout the year set aside on our calendars to honor and remember particular people who have meant much to us, some of them for our entire lives and some for less time, but of no less importance. Some are still with us, and sadly, some are not, though we can pause and acknowledge their importance and be thankful for the blessings they brought to this life.  We can also thank God for them, since the love they brought to us was his gift in the first place.
In my life there is no longer any mother, grandmother, or aunt to honor in person on this day, so I would like instead to speak to and about my granddaughter Melissa, who is 25 years old today.  It is very easy to remember the day she came into this world and the birthdays that have come and gone since then.  But there is one little piece of all that chain of days and years I would like to share, and it came to mind as I read the lessons appointed for this day, in particular the words of the Gospel about the love that comes from God.
When Melissa was a very little girl her parents were separated, having found the world too much interfering in their lives as a couple. Happily, many things worked together as they so often do, and they were eventually reunited stronger and more deeply than ever before. As I saw and felt the heartbreak over those terrible years, one thing stood out and does still, something so profound I cannot forget it.  Though I did not see it, my heart did, and these are the pictures that last forever.  On a brief visit between Melissa and her parents when she was perhaps three years old, she took each parent by a hand and then gently placed one hand on top of the other, very quietly and deliberately. There can be no explaining how this little one would have the wisdom and sensitivity to give a lesson in perfect love unless guided by its author.
Since their reconciliation as family, Melissa and her parents have lived very close to God, and this exercise in love is being passed down to Melissa’s younger brother and sister. Melissa has been more than a big sister, she has been another mother to them, and love is what you see and feel when you are in their home. Happy birthday, Melissa; what a beautiful day it was when you came to live in this world, giving a little glimpse of the beauty of the world from which you came.
Thanks be to God. Amen and amen.
– Susan Leach